Way back in 1995, Bandai Namco’s Ridge Racer on the original PlayStation featured a Galaga-style arcade mini-game in its loading screen. It was a simple way to give players something to do during their wait. Unfortunately for gamers, Namco patented the idea of presenting an “auxiliary” game while the main game was being loaded, killing the concept for most developers. For the last twenty years, you’ve been staring at loading bars and little orbs filling up instead of playing something because no one wanted to pay Namco for the right to do something else. Some games like FIFA and Battlefront have skirted around the patent by presenting mini-games that were essentially small slices of the main game, but giving players a mini-game that was substantially different from the rest of the code during a loading screen would’ve infringed on the patent.
That patent has expired. As outlined by the Loading Screen Game Jam, developers are now free to get creative during their loading screens. The progress bar can be a game on its own. Loading screen achievements! Loading screen DLC! Loading screen season passes!